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Tesla S battery pack (Tesla)

Tesla won't say so itself, but its much-discussed mainstream electric Model 3 appears to be powered by a battery about 11% smaller than the tiniest offered for its showcase luxury Model S, according to researchers who have gone to work figuring it out.

Vital news for battery fanatics: At a time researchers around the world are attempting to discover a breakthrough super-battery to bring electric cars to the masses, there is unusual interest in every detail about the $35,000 Model 3, which was launched July 28.

It's not clear why Tesla and CEO Elon Musk have been all-but silent about the battery, the car's most important spec, given that they have released at least bare-bones detail as a matter of course about its other vehicles. Tesla did not respond to emails from Axios about the battery.

But Venkat Viswanathan, a professor at Carnegie-Mellon University, said the car's 220-mile version appears to be powered by a 53.5 kWh battery, just smaller than the 60 kWh version in the smallest Model S battery. The Model 3's longer-range 310-mile version appears to have a 79 kWh battery. His findings — based on the general characteristics of the Model 3 that Tesla has released — generally jibe with estimates by some Tesla observers.

Update: Tesla's EPA certification, published today at Electrek, shows that Viswanathan's team estimate was spot on.

A surprise about the Model 3: "One really interesting point is that Model 3 has among the lowest drag coefficients of all passenger sedans, let alone in this price range," Viswanathan tells Axios. The drag coefficient — how easily the car can move through the wind — is measured at 0.23, compared with .24 for the Model S, which already had among the lowest.

Why it matters: The low drag coefficient means the car gets more energy out of a relatively small battery. And the smaller battery reduces the weight and price of the car, which is Musk's goal in attempting to create a big-selling mainstream electric.

Go deeper

DOJ: Capitol rioter threatened to "assassinate" Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Supporters of former President Trump storm the U.S. Captiol on Jan. 6. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A Texas man who has be charged with storming the U.S. Capitol in the deadly Jan. 6 siege posted death threats against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the Department of Justice said.

The big picture: Garret Miller faces five charges in connection to the riot by supporters of former President Trump, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and making threats. According to court documents, Miller posted violent threats online the day of the siege, including tweeting “Assassinate AOC.”

Schumer calls for IG probe into alleged plan by Trump, DOJ lawyer to oust acting AG

Jeffrey Clark speaks next to Deputy US Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen at a news conference in October. Photo: Yuri Gripas/AFP via Getty Images.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Saturday called for the Justice Department inspector general to investigate an alleged plan by former President Trump and a DOJ lawyer to remove the acting attorney general and replace him with someone more willing to investigate unfounded claims of election fraud.

Driving the news: The New York Times first reported Friday that the lawyer, Jeffrey Clark, allegedly devised "ways to cast doubt on the election results and to bolster Mr. Trump’s continuing legal battles and the pressure on Georgia politicians. Because Mr. [Jeffrey] Rosen had refused the president’s entreaties to carry out those plans, Mr. Trump was about to decide whether to fire Mr. Rosen and replace him with Mr. Clark."

4 hours ago - World

Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine

Containers carrying doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine arrive in Brazil. Photo: Maurio Pimentel/AFP via Getty Images

Brazil on Saturday began distributing the 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine that arrived from India Friday, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Brazil has the third highest COVID-19 case-count in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The 2 million doses "only scratch the surface of the shortfall," Brazilian public health experts told the AP.